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Clin J Pain. 1997 Jun;13(2):163-70.

Assessing depression among persons with chronic pain using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory: a comparative analysis.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48108, USA.



This study examined the ability of two self-report questionnaires, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), to discriminate between chronic pain patients with and without major depression. Since previous research has suggested that medical conditions such as chronic pain can influence the endorsement of items that measure neurovegetative symptoms of depression, the accuracy of each of these questionnaires was also assessed eliminating these items.


These included 132 consecutive patients with chronic pain, 44 of whom were diagnosed as suffering from major depression according to DSM-IV criteria.


Patients were administered a battery of questionnaires that included the CES-D and BDI. They were also interviewed by a clinical psychologist to determine the presence or absence of major depression.


Both questionnaires were able to discriminate significantly between persons with and without major depression. Removal of the somatic items on each questionnaire did not improve their accuracy. Discriminant function analysis revealed an optimal cut-off score of 21 for the BDI, and 27 for the CES-D. Overall hit rates at these cut-offs for the two questionnaires were comparable, while the CES-D had somewhat better sensitivity (81.8% vs. 68.2%). Conversely, the BDI had slightly better specificity (78.4% vs. 72.7%).


The results suggest that both questionnaires have good predictive validity among chronic pain patients, and decisions regarding the use of one questionnaire rather than the other may depend upon the goals of the user and the setting within which the questionnaire is used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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